How much is a woman worth?

May 29, 2018

Kingston Creatives held their first Art Walk on Sunday in downtown Kingston and featured the works of brilliant young artists. I was personally impressed with the quality of the art that featured dance, paintings, photography and installations. One piece that particularly stood out to me was called 'Women For Sale' by Antiguan artist Jaeson Lewis.

This was an installation that featured six women oiled and wrapped in just plastic with price tags on each of them - literally like pieces of meat. This display was so powerful that it sparked riveting discussions among the patrons as they stood and watch these ladies.

Personally, the piece spoke to me on several levels and it was refreshing to see how people reacted to it. For me, it really made me question many of the cultural norms and the way we are socialised to associate a monetary value on the bodies of women. It really hit home about the way the gender roles are determined around money. Some of the questions that immediately popped in my head as I looked at the price tags on the women, and the fact that some of them valued more than others, were many: How did they decide how much a woman is worth? Why did some women cost more than others? The piece also made me think about slavery, and how my ancestors were put up for sale and how their 'value' was determined.

It's still amazing to me how much importance we have placed on money in our lives. Even though so many women are educated and are employed, the way we see money is still shaping our relationships. Women are still seen as property and some men feel that once they spend certain money on them, they have the right to claim ownership. We still have women who are in relationships with men only if they have the money to 'take care of them'. I know someone personally who does not have a job, and she has five 'boyfriends' who each take care of a different expense - rent, car, food, clothes, etc.

We live in a world where many topics are being discussed in public spaces that are normally considered taboo. From the rise of the #MeTooMovement to the fact that woman are becoming more financially independent, the value of women in our society HAS definitely changed. We still have a very long way to go, because much of the way we see women and money is embedded in our culture and it will take much time and effort to change that. Perhaps we can start by adjusting the way we raise our children and the value we place on money in our lives. In the meantime, we can start by supporting young artists who continue to push the envelope and produce thought-provoking work that inspires us.

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